Best Practice in SRH HIV: Engaging with the media in Sri Lanka

Sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are integral to the attainment of human rights and to an effective response to HIV.

SRHR HIV/AIDS Sri LankaNew research from IPPF details success from the SRH and HIV program in South Asia, where the innovative use of media in Sri Lanka has been documented as an example of best practice. Engaging with media was a key strategy in the project, which recognised the important role that journalists can play in SRH HIV advocacy.

The Momentum Project had the unique opportunity to engage with Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim media personnel working in print and electronic media in Sri Lanka. Covering two provinces – Uva and Southern Province – two small grants were awarded to Prathiba Media Network, a young dynamic group of media enthusiasts with experience reaching out to young people.

In the Southern Province, Prathiba Media Newtwork (PMN) was already engaged in the publication of a Newsletter – ‘Wiparama’ or ‘Inquiry – and was reaching out to young people through the radio programmes of the State Broadcasting Corporation of Sri Lanka.

PMN organized workshops where 20 journalists out of 200 applications were selected through a competitive process based on the number of articles published during the preceding 6 months.

These journalists attended three workshops, which addressed the concept of SRH HIV integration, its benefits, and human rights. The workshops also provided detailed information on at risk populations (MARPS), including the Beach Boys –a colloquial name for male sex workers who work in the tourist resorts of the Southern Province coastal belt.

The RuhunuSevaya radio programmes were well received and the broadcasters granted an additional 30 minutes of free radio time for an extra show, based on high listener satisfaction and listener requests for more programs.

In Uva Province – an area that has historically underperformed on indicators of health and economy – the project targeted medical personnel who are key opinion makers and sources of information for the general public. Newspaper articles and radio broadcasts were used to engage with all ethnicities, whilst also promoting the engagement of young people.

More information about the success and outcomes of this project, and other Best Practice Case studies from across South Asia, can be found here in the Advocacy on Integrating SRH and HIV Best Practices Document.